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June 23, 2023

Molino grindmaster 810

You can’t help but be jealous. Or at least, I can’t. Watching celebrity chefs travel around Europe, following their journeys via Instagram as they flit from fine-dining restaurant to fine-dining restaurant, eating the best food in the best places. Absolute gluttony. Meal after expensive meal.

I follow a lot of foodie types on social media, so this tends to happen pretty frequently. Particularly when those people are chefs. They pack up and head to Europe for a few weeks and just go crazy for fine food.

Molino grindmaster 810 noma’s rene redzepi travelling in mexico.

Noma’s Rene Redzepi travelling in Mexico.

Every iconic restaurant you’ve ever wanted to visit, there they are. Asador Etxebarri, El Celler de Can Roca, Noma, Geranium, Septime, Osteria Francescana, Epicure, Bistro Paul Bert, Elkano… tick, tick, tick.

These itineraries read like the World’s 50 Best list. The food looks mind-blowing – extensive set-menu meals that represent the pinnacle of culinary skill and invention. The wine at these places is also amazing, obviously. And this just goes on day after day. Sometimes more than once a day – sometimes these people are hitting multiple Michelin-starred eateries in a single 24-hour period.

I’m not the only one drooling over my phone back in Australia. Check out the comments on the posts and you can see other followers wishing it was them eating all that food, going to all those places, even spending all that money.

You have to actually stop yourself and try to remember: this ain’t it.

This is not how to travel. It’s not how to eat. If you’re copying trips like these, you’re doing it wrong.

These trips look incredible, of course. It makes sense – if you love food, then you want to experience it when it’s cooked by the best chefs in the finest venues. It’s the same if you love art: you’re going to head to all the best-known galleries. If you love sport, you want to see the best players on the field.

But food is actually different. Trust me, if you design yourself an itinerary like these chef bros, just hitting fine-diner after fine-diner on your travels, you will regret it. And you will waste a lot of money.

Let’s start with the sheer physicality. It’s no fun to eat that much food. Fine-dining restaurants are not set up as daily experiences. They’re not even set up as weekly experiences. No one is expected to do this on a regular basis.

We’re talking 10, 15, perhaps even 20 courses of meticulously designed and beautifully executed food. You might sniff and say it’s all just tiny portions on gigantic plates, but we’re still talking about a lot of food.

You’ll get through it. These menus have been carefully considered. But you will not, 100 per cent guaranteed, decide in a few hours that you feel like another meal. And, 1 million per cent guaranteed, you will not feel like another meal similar to the one you just had.

You also can’t appreciate the true greatness of this style of food if you’re eating it day after day. A visit to, say, Mugaritz in San Sebastian should be a huge event. You should be looking forward to it months in advance.

If it’s not special, if it’s just another stop on the gluttonous road, you’re not going to get the best out of the experience.

There’s something else to consider, too: good food doesn’t begin and end at fine-dining restaurants. Again, let’s take San Sebastian as an example. This is a city with multiple two- and three-Michelin-starred restaurants; you could spend your whole time here just eating haute cuisine.


But then you would miss out on pintxos, the local style of tapas. You would miss out on a whole city filled with affordable, delicious cuisine cooked by talented, passionate people.

The same goes for Paris, where you would miss those perfect little neighbourhood bistros; Rome with its trattoria; Barcelona with its tapas bars.

I don’t blame the chefs for creating these itineraries – they’re as much research trips as holidays. For everyone else though, there’s no need to feel jealous. This is not how to travel. It’s not how to eat. If you’re copying trips like these, you’re doing it wrong.

My advice: do fine-dining now and then, if that’s your passion, if that’s how you want to spend your money. But leave room for everything else.

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